The "To Do and not To Do's" of muscle conditioning

Mon. August 24, 2009 12:00 AM
by Jim Gregory

There a lot of voices out there telling you what to do and what not to do, some from experts and most from a bunch of yahoos that have no idea what they are talking about. Gymbunnies, I will provide you in this column a simple "To Do and not To Do" list for getting yourself in the best condition possible.

Do these things:

Concentrate on only a few key muscle groups. I break my body into three sections: Upper, Mid & Lower that I follow as easy as 1,2,3… Each day I count in order 1: Upper Body, 2: Mid-section and 3: Lower Body. This accomplishes a couple important things. It keeps me on track of my workout routine and allows each area of my body to recover before I work it out again so as to prevent scarring of my muscle tissues and allow maximum growth. Muscles need rest too.

Warm-Up. Before you launch into 80% of your maximum weight lifting, warm up. Do repetitions of 10-20% of your maximum to get your target muscle group prepared to lift 80% of its capacity.

Concise Movements. Don't cheat yourself! Make your workout motions slow and controlled. You don't want to be sloppy Betty just throwing your weights around. Its not only dangerous, you're not getting the full benefit of your workout (your time and energy) and plus it just looks awful. I take my time to avoid people who look dangerous with weights in their hands. You will look more like Zeus or Hercules with good form than the amount of weight in your hands.

Breathe. Just like yoga or your anger management counselor teaches you the importance of breath, it's important to inhale before you lift and exhale as you lift and inhale as the weight comes to its beginning position. This is one of the most common mistakes I find people making and it makes such an important impact on your workout.

Test. Your strength will grow as you workout. It is important not to keep pushing your muscles up a notch, otherwise they get used to the resistance you've selected for them and no growth continues. Retest your maximum capacity periodically to see where your repetitions should be. It's important to choose a weight that allows you to get in at least 8-12 repetitions before your muscles fatigue.

Don't do these things:

Swing. Don't' swing you're your weights fast or bounce off your movements. No matter how light the weights are, or how good the beat your iPod is playing, keep your movements concise.

Rush Take your time! Not only is it dangerous running around the gym with people dong their best balancing weights on various parts of their body, you will find yourself ridiculously fatigued at the end that sets you back more than it does push you forward in your day, defeating the purpose of rushing in the first place.

Hold Your Breath. Holding your breath is not going to make that weight move any faster gymbunnies. Holding your breath doesn't only hinder your progress, but it's dangerous. Holding your breath will create a "Valsalva maneuver" which increases the blood pressure in your chest, which impairs the movement of blood in your heart. You will get light headed and dizzy, which are not things you want to experience when you are balancing weights.

Over Exert. Don't exercise one muscle group more than once a day. You will scar your muscle tissue. I recommend you give your muscles at least two days of recovery before you hit them again. If you scar your muscles, you will developed super tones flat muscles as opposed to plump and round muscles.

Substitute. Don't replace heavy weights with lighter weights and more repetitions. Even if you can just do 3 repetitions at 80% of your capacity, it is better than doing 20 at 40% of your capacity. You want to push yourself, not make yourself comfortable. You will only tone and not grow with this kind of workout.